interviews / Q&A's


2011-RWA-GraceBurrowesOne of seven children, award-winning novelist Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania, reading and roaming the countryside on her horse, Buck. Many years and several degrees later, Grace was a successful child welfare attorney, with more than twenty manuscripts under her belt, when she met Deb Werksman, editorial director at Sourcebooks Casablanca, in a bar. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Heir, the first in the best-selling ‘Windham’ series, set in Regency England, was published in 2010; Publishers Weekly listed it as one of its top five romances for that year. Today, Grace writes best-selling, highly acclaimed novels and short stories in the historical and contemporary romance subgenres. Her new book, Tremaine’s True Love (see review), introduces ‘The True Gentlemen’ series. Grace has kindly agreed to spend some time with us in The Literary Lounge.




LS: Grace, First of all, welcome to The Literary Lounge. Huge congratulations on the publication of Tremaine’s True Love.

We’re so pleased you could join us to answer a few questions. The first has to be about writing. So, who or what first inspired you to start?

GB: Books inspired me to write books! I’ve always been a voracious reader, and after a few decades of that, the urge to write a book myself was simply an organic next step.


LS: If you had to list five influential books (fiction or non-fiction), which would they be? And why?

GS: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Thomas Kuhn, 1962; anniversary edition 2012) — It reveals how resistant we are to any truth that’s inconvenient to entrenched economic and political interests, regardless of how much science and even experience supports that truth.

Last Child in the Woods (Richard Louv, 2005) – We are a species that needs frequent, direct contact with nature, or we lose our balance.

People of the Lie (M. Scott Peck, 1990) – There is evil in the world, and it exhibits certain identifiable traits

The Different Drum (M. Scott Peck, 1990) – There is true community in the world, and it can stand against every dark force ever devised

Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak, 1963) – Even the worst day can be endured with imagination, a little kindness, and a slice of cake.


LS: That’s an interesting and diverse list. We’re read three, including the Sendak, which we love. Back to the questions though … How important is historical accuracy to you? Is plot more important than historical context?

GB: I write fiction set in a historical context, so creating a credible historical world is part of effective storytelling, but the story must always come first. Too little accuracy – or too much – will throw readers out of the story. One difficulty is, every reader has a different optimal dose of accuracy. One reader’s rapturous description of a ball gown is another reader’s entirely skippable half a page. Too many skippable half pages is as much of a storytelling fail as having the Regency duke whip out his cell phone. Then too, there’s accuracy, and there’s what readers perceive the historical world to have been. Often, the readers who are most passionate about catching authors in “mistakes” are themselves wrong.

Finally, because we aren’t alive in Regency England, we only know what the surviving sources tell us, and those tend to be records made more by men than women, more by the literate than the illiterate, the wealthy than the poor, and so forth. How much of a hobby horse should historical accuracy be in genre fiction, when in many instances, the best lens we have to view a past world is a dark and distant mirror?


LS: Interesting answer. Moving on to your own books, do you prefer writing standalones or books in series? What inspired your new series, ‘The True Gentlemen’ books, for example? And what makes Tremaine St Michael fit the bill?

tremaine_450x2-274x450GB: I prefer a series, because it allows me to sink into an entire world, and get to know an entire cast, more than a standalone does. ‘The True Gentlemen’ were all secondary characters in previous books. Each fellow had behaved honorably, but hadn’t won himself a happily ever after. They did the right thing anyway, so I owed them a shot at true love.

Tremaine ceded the field in Gabriel’s book [Gabriel, Lord of Regrets, 2013]when the lady he proposed to gave her heart to another. He also, in Beckman’s book [Beckman, Lord of Sins, 2013], spent three years searching high and low for his deceased brother’s child, and when he found her, he behaved honorably there too. A good guy, but charm-challenged. Fortunately, Lady Nita gets him sorted out.


LS: You deal with the issues of death and loss a lot in your books – and many of the characters have dealt or are dealing with the loss of a loved one – as a result of war, poverty, or due to a careless society. Given the mortality rates at the time, is this to make your books more authentic?

GB: Death, loss, betrayal, disappointment, any big bad wound can scare us into living a diminished version of the life we’re meant to live. We play it safe, guard our hearts, and find “coping mechanisms,” meaning ways to cope with a deep pain. That’s the posture of a romance hero or heroine at the beginning of the book. They’re “Just fine, thank you”, and then love comes along, and tempts them to drop that mask, and admit they aren’t so fine after all.


LS: Lady Nita, in Tremaine’s True Love, is a good example of this. Your female characters, like Lady Nita, are often mavericks, somewhat misunderstood by their families, and somewhat lonely as a result. Where did the inspiration for the character of Lady Nita come from?

GB: The term “burnout” is modern, but I suspect the phenomenon is ancient. It’s the impulse to get back in the fight, because lives –quarterly earnings, stock values, team morale – depend on us giving and giving and giving even after our own well has run dry. Nita faces this burden as a healer, partly out of a daughter’s guilt, but also because the local physician is a disgrace. I also put Nita up against the social riptide that was ejecting Regency women from the healing professions as anything but nurses, the most dangerous, grueling, and thankless aspect of patient care.

Nita knows lives depend on her medical skill, but she loses sight of what Tremaine can see: Her own life depends on her finding a way to contribute that won’t take her out of the fight permanently. I think this dilemma is a challenge for many women in the present day: the balancing act between self-care, pragmatic demands, and greater social issues, all of which present themselves as non-negotiably urgent.

So Nita came from every woman who’s ever wondered how much longer she can go on overwhelmed, tired, and emotionally tapped out.


LS: Something we empathise with greatly. Perhaps that’s why she resonates so well as a character. Finally, you’re very busy, obviously, but what’s next?

GB: Daniel’s True Desire comes out in November, the second book in ‘The True Gentlemen’ series!


LS: Well, having read the first book, we look forward to it. Good luck with the writing and with the writers retreat that you’re running in Perthshire, next year. It sounds like fun – and Scotland’s beautiful at that time of year.

Thank you so much, Grace. It’s been a pleasure.



Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes | 4 August 2015 | Sourcebooks Casablanca

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Image credits: US jacket cover supplied by Morgan Doremus at Sourcebooks Casablanca 2015. Photo of author at RWA conference, 2011, from author’s website.


Also of interest:What makes a good regency? – Grace Burrowes The Duke’s Disaster; ‘Carole Mortimer – a writer’s life‘; ‘Lisa Kleypas’s Brown-Eyed Girl‘;A Georgian Fairy Tale – Joanna Taylor’s Masquerade; ‘Mary Balogh’s The Escape – finding a haven in a heartless world’


Recent The Literary Lounge articles:Pinterest – “inspiration snacking” or something more?


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